If your summer marketing efforts consist of little more than firing off some seasonal vouchers, you’re missing a trick. As your customers head outdoors, you should too.

We all know successful marketing is about engaging effectively with your customers – and this involves reacting to what they’re doing at any particular time. As things heat up, shopping (both online and offline) gets pushed lower down customers’ list of things to do. Yes it’s a challenge for marketers – but it’s also an opportunity. It’s time to get out there and connect. Here are a few ways to do just that…

Take advantage of the staycation crowd

According to TripAdvisor’s latest release on British travel trends, “staycations” look set to be popular for 2014. London and Edinburgh head the list of top 15 travel destinations for Brits this summer. Also in the list are Manchester, Glasgow, Liverpool and Birmingham. If you’re looking for they type of promotional event that’s designed to have people flocking to you, pay close attention to where your customers are likely to be.

Appeal to the tastebuds

Whether it’s an invite-only event for existing clients or a promotional drive aimed at new customers, one sure-fire hit for getting people’s attention is the promise of good food. By all means, make it fun – but don’t make it amateurish. A few burnt sausages aren’t going to do you any favours (and in all likelihood will get you into trouble with environmental health). Make sure you’re tooled up with decent equipment  – and above all, catering staff who know what they’re doing.

Remember, this is not simply a giveaway for the sake of it. You’re playing host – but at the same time you’re inviting customers to engage with the product you’re promoting. Couple appropriate branding with ways to make it easy for your customers to try the product (or find out more about it) while they eat and drink.

Engage locally

If you’re appealing to a local market, where are those people likely to be gathering this summer? For every Glastonbury and Glyndebourne there are hundreds of mini festivals, family fun days and other cultural events up and down the country. Which of these are likely to be honeypots for your customer base?

A table with a few leaflets manned by a bored-looking receptionist isn’t going to provoke much interest. If you want to make a splash, think more along the lines of providing (and sponsoring) a ducking stool – or even better, a bucking bronco. Your involvement could even be as simple as providing and sponsoring a prize at a local village fair. You have three crucial factors to consider: your proposed promotional activity should be an appropriate fit for the event taking place; it should be appropriate for the customers you’re looking to communicate with and finally, it should be in keeping with your brand image.

Back to basics with advertising

Take a look at this breakdown for the UK advertising spend last year. We all know print media is struggling – but it may surprise you to see out of home advertising is actually holding its own pretty well. Even for small businesses with a local customer base, it’s all too easy to focus entirely on your online marketing strategy and quietly shelve simple street presence ideas as hopelessly old fashioned. If you’ve got an idea that’s consistent with your brand; that won’t break the bank and is easy to implement, now’s the time to give it a go.

Make summer 2014 a time to connect with your customers in a way that will make them remember you when the sun stops shining.